“Test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”(I John 4:1b) There’s a colloquialism in American conversation which claims, “If something sounds too Good to be true, it probably is.” ‘The same for Ridiculous. ‘And for Stupid. A recent edition of DownEast magazine (p. 24, March 2021) reported a mind-numbing episode from my favorite vacationland, the State of Maine: “In the days after a minor earthquake [near Robbinston], far-right conspiracists flooded social media with claims that the vibrations were actually from a massive bomb dropped on an invading Chinese force. Residents, however, reported no signs of the People’s Liberation Army.”
With all the Covid restrictions from the past fifteen months, some folks have spent too much time indoors…too much time trolling the wacky recesses of the Internet…and our national IQ has seemingly diminished by more than a few points.
Consider the silliness you hear in places about the worthiness of the Covid vaccination rollout: to the majority of us in America, a tremendous success (!)…but to some others, a suspicious and potentially evil plot to harm and control our citizens. Please, church folks: don’t get trapped in nonsense!
In late March, the advancing rate of vaccinations was interrupted among some Christians who feared a Facebook rumor – stating that an enzyme called “luciferase” was part of the Moderna medicine, and that it would inflict a “barcode or imprint or pattern to I.D. you” to the government. (USA Today, 4/26/21). You guessed it: some heard an echo of the name “Lucifer,” the Canaanite deity Day Star, who falls from heaven at Yahweh’s command in Isaiah 14:12 – but who develops an apocryphal identity centuries later in superstition and cinematography. Imagine THAT guy in your injection! Thank you, NO! But, of course, it’s silliness…without merit medically or theologically.
We are emerging into a generally Covid-safe society, now that we’re approaching “herd immunity” (itself, an interesting image for human beings!) – but we’re probably not yet finished with the superstition and the spin. In a diseased era for the northern kingdom of Israel in the eighth century BC, the prophet Isaiah offered strong counsel against the voices of social media in his day: “Now if people say to you, ‘Consult the ghosts and the familiar spirits that chirp and mutter…’” – I say, DON’T. (Isaiah 8:19b) I believe that the Church, right now, is in a fertile season of recovery and growth as the culture seeks true meaning in Life, coming out of the chaos of Covid and economic recession and political divide….but we’re got to be smart, or else they’ll see right through us. Voices of conspiracy continue to chirp and mutter in society.
In the United Methodist Church, let’s sharpen the REASON portion of our Wesleyan quadrilateral as the culture seeks answers. “Test everything; hold fast to – ONLY – what is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21)